Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Book Info
Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
© 2007 Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA,
ISBN 978-0763627911

Plot Summary
At the age of 14, Quincie Morris of Austin, Tx. was left orphaned and placed in the care of her uncle Davidson, barely ten years her senior and still very much a child himself. Luckily, Quincie also had Kieren, a werewolf hybrid, her best friend and secret love interest who was always there for her. A few years later as a high school senior, Quincie her uncle were moving forward in the reinvention her mother’s Italian restaurant by adopting a vampire theme, and she eagerly looked forward to her 21st birthday when she would fully inherit the restaurant to run on her own. But when family friend and long-time head chef Vaggio is murdered, things turn a bit upside down. Uncle Davidson finds Henry Johnson to replace Vaggio as the restaurant’s head chef, who is impressive in the kitchen but will Quincie be able to transform him into the mysterious vampire chef that was to be the restaurant’s main attraction? Or will the new chef be try to overpower Quincie’s love for Kieren and win her for himself?  More disappearances occur after Vaggio’s death, and rumor has it that they are wolf attacks. Is it possible that Kieren or other werewolves were behind them all? Or maybe the vampires are real…

Reader’s Annotation
Tantalize may be classed as “Dark Fantasy” akin to Twilight, but Quincie Morris is a ray of sunshine next to Bella Swan. Come to Austin, Texas and follow Quincie through laughs, romance and nail-biting suspense in this new take on vampires and werewolves!

Critical Evaluation
I listened to this as an audiobook and found myself picking up on certain words, phrases or descriptors that I felt may have been overused such as “nada.” Unless it is a major theme or plot element, I didn’t think something like that should stick out so much to the reader/listener. I also occasionally found myself confused and trying to make sense of the various characters and plot elements, such as keeping straight all of the minor characters like Kieren’s other were-friends, and how Henry Johnson primarily became known as “Bradley” which confused me when I forgot about “Henry Johnson.” Other than that, Leitich-Smith was very well written and descriptive. I could almost taste the dishes she described, and though I’ve never been to Austin, I found it very easy to visualize through her words. I also enjoyed how the vampire themed restaurant was brought to life down to the smallest clever little details such as the lack or mirrors – since vampires don’t have reflections of course.

Information about the Author
Cynthia has worked as a popcorn popper and cashier in a movie theater, a waitress (in a Mexican chain restaurant, and at a country club restaurant and pool), an attendant at a gas station, a receptionist at a law firm, a telephone operator at a bank, a law clerk (for a legal aid, for a small firm, for a government agency, and for a federal appeals judge), and an English tutor for students of migrant farm families. She has also worked as a reporter (for small-town and big city newspapers) and in public relations (for a non-profit agency, for a greeting card company, and for an oil company). In addition, Cynthia has taught legal writing and writing for children and young adults.

Cynthia was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Her previous states of residence are: Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, and Oklahoma. She is a tribal member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Today, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her four cats and her husband, award-winning children’s book author Greg Leitich Smith.

From the author’s website

Dark Fantasy

Curriculum Ties

Booktalking Ideas
Quincie seems very eager to grow up and be considered an adult and be taken seriously as an integral part of the restaurant. Do her actions, such as underage drinking, make her seem more adult, or only serve to highlight her immaturity?

Reading Level/ Interest Age

Challenge Issues

  • Paranormal elements of vampires, werewolves and other shape-shifters.
  • Underage drinking.

Defense options

  • Be aware of your library’s collection development policy.
  • Be familiar with the material in question, and the context of the questionable content.
  • Assert the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and standards of intellectual freedom.
  • Consult online book reviews, and others who have read the book.
    • What motivates Quincie’s drinking? How can the treatment of werewolves and vampires parallel real aspects of our society involving prejudice and racism?

Why Included?
Tantalize is included because it was assigned for my LIBR 265 course. Previously, the only vampire novels I had read were The Vampire Diaries when I was in Middle School, and more recently Twilight. It was nice to get another take on vampire mythology.


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